Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Blessed Eid to All

In commemoration of Eid Al Fitr I decided to post these favorite verses of mine from the Quran (in English for all of you non-Arabic speakers).

Quran 93: The Glorious Morning Light

By the Glorious Morning Light,
And by the Night when all is still
Your Guardian has not forsaken you,
nor is He displeased.
And the Hereafter will be better for you than the present.
And soon will He give you that wherewith you shall be well-pleased.
Did He not find you an orphan and give shelter?
Did He not find you lost and wandering, and give guidance?
Found you in need, and made you independent.
Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,
Nor repulse that who, in need, seeks you
But speak of the blessings of the Lord


Quran 24:35; The Verse of Light

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
His Light is as like a Niche and within it a Lamp enclosed in Glass;
the glass like a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree,
an Olive tree that is neither of the east nor the west,
whose oil is luminous even though no fire has touched it:
Light upon Light!
Allah guides whom He wills into to His Light;
Allah sets forth Parables for men: and Allah knows all things.


Note: Allah is God in Arabic

I re-translated parts of these so that they "flowed" better in English. I noticed that many Quranic verses tranlsated into English have an issue with readability; they contain far too many words like "verily", "God doth guide", etc. - and a style of writing that tends to sound archaic at times. I therefore touched up the verses above a little bit in order to make them more readable to a western audience (and in my opinion even more true to the Arabic original).

On 9/11 of this year I went with a Jordanian friend to St. Marks church here in Seattle, where they were commemorating 9/11 with services that were to be given by representitives of all 3 Abrahamic faiths, entitled "Moving Forward Together". To my ears, the Islamic part of the service sounded a little bit too foreign, too "other" than it needed to be. The 'Sufi' part, with touches of Rumi, was much more palatible to a western audience than the other parts. There were even blond women in white robes chanting "Istaghfarullah" (I ask forgiveness from God). Kudos to them, I say.

But what really baffles me is when Imams read Quranic verses to non Arabic speakers in Arabic. The must think that surely the poetry and music from the original Arabic will somehow transfer and become apparent to the Americans. Well, guess what - it doesn't; It just sounds like a foreign language, and usually they drone on and on. Sadly, when they recite English-language translations of the Quran it also sounds a bit too esoteric, like a cross between Shakespeare and the Arabian Nights (is 'verily' an English word?). Seems to me like a more contemporary translation of the Quran is in order. Especially as I get the sense that many Americans really want to learn more about Islam and get to know more of what it really is all about. Come to think of it, a lot of Muslims want exactly that as well.

10 Comments:

Blogger NAR said...

Al Salamu Alaikum,

I think whenever you translate something you will have to interpret it in order to choose the best words. This is why translation of the Quran should not be done by anyone.

I think you are right about the need for better flowing translations. I wonder how "old" the most popular translations are.

My favoriate verse is "waman yattagi allah yaj'al lahu makhrajan, wa yarzookhu min haithu layahtasib" (My loose translation/understanding: and the one who is pious, Allah will make him a way out of problems and provide for him from unexpected venues)

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Ahmad Humeid said...

Very good post samer. I hope you had a good Eid :)

I totally agree with you on the tranlation issue. I recently looked at a German translation of some verses and also had similar issues with them.

Sometimes it's a problem with the meaning. And sometimes it's the language, which the translators, apparently steeped in biblical studeis, made in a, well, biblical language.

Greeting from Amman.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous sofian hijjawi said...

Hi Samer,

it's been a long time, how are you, amanda and Isma3eel? Inshallah kulkom bkhair.

Salamat from Dubai

Sofian Hijjawi

sofianhijjawi@gmail.com

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually there is a translation that is out there but has some i guess mistakes like all others(nothin new there)..my spouse is checking it out currently and seems to like it...

The Koran..Penguin Books..Translated with notes by N.J.Dawood

4:41 AM  
Anonymous Mariam Ayyash said...

hello
look, for the sake of clarity, you should tell readers that this is the translation of the interpretation of Quran, and not the actual translation, because the Quran can only exist as it is in Arabic, we might wander why but come to think of it, really, there is more than 50% of the Quran that we Arabs dont know the real interpretation, because the book is everlasting, and this book is supposed to stand out at all different ages, that is why we are coming to elaborate more parts as time goes by... there are other aspects, the language, and the energy level posted by reading or hearing the Quran recited in Arabic, has its own field of studies in todays world (and there are proven experiments), that is probably why the prayer can only be spoken in Arabic (the quranic part of it) there must be a reason beyond our understanding, for example we all know that Al kursee versus burns Gienis, but thinking in a scientific way, that maybe true if Al Kursi has a specific energy wave that affects the energy form of Genes. who knows?! So we should never under estimate the value of the Quran recited in Arabic even for non arab speakers.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Shoib said...

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2:13 AM  
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11:40 PM  
Anonymous مدونات من أجل التغيير said...

تحية طيبة وبعد :
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حيث أننا نسعى لبناء أقوى وأكبر تجمع عربي للمدونات في الوطن العربي
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طريقة الانضمام للتجمع :
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4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

و بعد كل هذا يريد الأردن بناء مفاعلات نووية لتوليد الكهرباء!!!

و نشرت مجلة دير شبيجل الألمانية فى 19 مايو 2011 "الفلبين : أطلال المفاعل النووى باتان مزار للسياح " كارثة فوكوشيما أعطت رد فعل ، المفاعل النووى الوحيد فى الفلبين Bataan لم يتم تشغيله أبدا و لم ينتج كيلو وات واحد من الكهرباء للأن و سيظل هكذا مستقبلا ، و الأكثر من هذا أن المفاعل النووى الذى يقع على شبة جزيرة باتان أصبح منذ مايو 2011 مزار للسياح .

و نشرت صحيفة دى برسة النمساوية فى 9 فبراير 2012 "خسائر فادحة بالمليارات لوقف عمل المفاعلات النووية - 2.85 مليار إيرو هى تكاليف تفكيك 3 مفاعلات نووية سوفيتية - 2.5 مليار إيرو غير متوفرين ـ كم تبلغ كمية النفايات النووية؟ غير واضح " وقف عمل ثلاث مفاعلات نووية فى بلغاريا و ليتوانيا و سلوفاكيا ينذرون بخسائر فادحة بالمليارات للأتحاد الأوروبى ، ولا يعرف أحد بالضبط كم حجم النفايات المشعة نوويا من الثلاث مفاعلات سوفيتية الصنع التى يجب التخلص منها، بالرغم من تعطيل عمل المفاعلات النووية إلا أنها و لوقت طويل لن تتوقف ، قضبان الوقود النووية و غيرها من المواد السامة المشعة نوويا يجب التخلص منها ، و هناك تنبؤات أن إيقاف المفاعلات بصورة نهائية سيكون فى سنوات 2025 و 2029 و 2035 على التوالى وإيضا فى نفس الوقت تعتبر قنبلة بيئية.

ألمانيا و بلجيكا و سويسرا يقرروا إنهاء الطاقة النووية و أغلاق مفاعلاتهم النووية تدريجيا..

و نشرت صحيفة دير شتاندرد النمساوية فى 15 يونيو 2011 إيطاليا تظل خالية من الطاقة النووية، هو قرار الإيطاليين فى أستفتاء شعبى و الذى صوت بنسبة 95 % ضد الطاقة النووية. و تريد سويسرا حتى عام 2030 أنهاء الطاقة النووية. ...
مزيــــــد من التفاصيل فى مقال (ثقافة الهزيمة .. أرجوك لا تعطنى هذا السرطان) بالرابط التالى
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6:33 AM  
Blogger مرعي المغربي said...

I am very happy by this شركة شام للخدمات المنزليه
لو محتاج شركة رش مبيدات لها سمعه جيده ومضمونه شركة رش مبيدات بالدمام نستعمل أجود المبيدات الالمانيه ( جهازيه-وبالملامسه )
ليس لها تأثير على الانسان او البيئه
لو بيتك فيه .نمل أبيض او صراصير او بق او فأران او ثعابيين اطلب شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام للقضاء على الحشرات من اول رشه

8:34 AM  

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